HOMELAND ACTOR Damian Lewis has penned a moving tribute to his late wife Helen McCrory, follower her sad death aged 52.
The Peaky Blinders star died "after an heroic battle with cancer" with news of her passing announced by her husband on Friday.
Writing in The Sunday Times, Lewis paid tribute to McCrory as "an even more brilliant person than she was an actress".
"As I sit down to write this, I can hear Helen shouting from the bed, 'Keep it short, Damian, it's not about you'," he wrote.
"I'll try, but on a weekend when the papers, rightly, will be paying their respects to the Duke of Edinburgh, thousands of others around the world have been remembering m'Duchess, my Little One, royalty in her own right. And I'd like to throw in my tuppence worth ...
"When I say 'royalty', I am of course referring to the esteem in which Helen is held in our business. Her nickname to many was Dame Helen (apologies, Dame Helen), and although we'll never know now whether that would have become a reality, I think secretly, we do know."
Lewis recalled how he had "never known anyone so consciously spread happiness", and recalled how the nurses who took care of his wife during her final days and hours often looked forward to seeing her "because she made their day better".
"I've never known anyone able to enjoy life as much," he said.
"Her ability to be in the present and enjoy the moment was inspirational. Nor was she interested in navel-gazing. No real self-interest in self-reflection; she believed in looking out, not in. Which is why she was able to turn her light so brightly on others."
"Some people believe happiness is a right, some people find happiness difficult," he continued. "It's an elusive emotion. Helen believed you choose happiness."
According to the Band of Brothers actor, McCrory had urged the couple’s two teenage children not to be sad because "I've lived the life I wanted to".
She also urged her husband to move on and find happiness with someone else eventually.
"She said to us from her bed, 'I want Daddy to have girlfriends, lots of them, you must all love again, love isn't possessive, but you know, Damian, try at least to get through the funeral without snogging someone'."
"Already I miss her," Lewis concluded.
"She has shone more brightly in the last months than you would imagine even the brightest star could shine. In life, too, we had to rise to meet her. But her greatest and most exquisite act of bravery and generosity has been to 'normalise' her death.”
"She's shown no fear, no bitterness, no self-pity, only armed us with the courage to go on and insisted that no one be sad, because she is happy. I'm staggered by her. She's been a meteor in our life."
A star of the stage and screen, McCrory played Polly Gray in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in three Harry Potter films.